Monday, November 1, 2010

I Want Change but not that kind of CHANGE

When President Obama was elected CHANGE was his mantra.  He won the election by 7 percentage points.  Not exactly a mandate, but certainly change from the previous administration.  Of course, Texas went for McCain, but only by 11 percent, not exactly a total blowout either.  But now, people are MAD because the Democrats took it for granted that the electorate wanted change.

But what exactly did the electorate mean by change.  Well, obviously the liberals wanted carbon trade legislation, strong environmental regulation, immigration reform, and universal, cheap, single payer health care.  They sort of got health care, not sure how cheap it's going to be though.  Conservatives wanted the economy to get back on track without spending money.  Well, the economy is still struggling after two years, and don't even get them started on the money.  The moderates, which I still believe there are a few of us left out there, wanted the economy to improve, and wanted modest changes in health care, immigration and environmental regulation. The independents, well I'm not really not really sure what they wanted because they aren't a cohesive group.  But probably the thing that everyone wanted was a decent job where they lived.

I think it's interesting that CHANGE caught so many voters imagination.   We humans don't particularly like change, we like things to stay the same, as long as everything is running relatively smoothly.  But, of course we all know that a few months before the election everything went to hell in a hand basket.  Blaming fingers started pointing in all directions and I think that all sides had their parts to play.

The biggest problem, in my humble opinion, was that everyone seemed to think that good economic times were here to stay and despite a few minor blips from time to time nothing was going to slow down.  When the stock market started showing weaknesses, people switched to real estate as the be all and end all.  I started getting queasy when I noticed large amounts of new housing stock being bought in blocks and put up for lease in neighborhoods throughout town.  I found out pension funds from California and other states were investing heavily in real estate.  Then the Adjustable Rate Mortgage reared its ugly head.  Back in the 80's this was the bugaboo that brought on the Savings and Loan Crisis.  Housing speculation became rampant, always a bad sign, but no one seemed to notice.  A coworker of mine had caught the fever and declared she wanted to flip a house.  I advised against it.  When everyone is flipping houses, its time to get out of real estate.  Well, I sort of changed that, Old Joe Kennedy decided to get out of the stock market when he found out his shoe shine boy was investing.

So what happened to bring on the Great Recession, relaxation of government regulation, by both the Democrats and the Republicans, and universal greed brought it on.  One thing we have to remember is it was called the Great Recession.  But unlike its name sake, the Great Depression, which took 10 long years plus a world war to recover from, we in our fast paced world expect the economy to recover overnight.  Well it's two years later and the economy is limping slowly towards recovery, largely due to the dreaded TARP legislation.  Everyone hates TARP, but actually it has been pretty successful.  Most of the banks that received the loans have paid the money back and GM is slowly starting to improve.  Also, if my memory serves me TARP was a bipartisan bill, everyone was on board.

Well, back to change, what kind of change would be GOOD Change?

The other day I was listening to an interview of Bill Hobby, the longest standing Lieutenant Governor in Texas.  The interviewer said that polls show that most voters don't want their legislators to compromise and he asked what Hobby thought of that.  Hobby laughed and said, "then they're CRAZY".  Because as the former LG knows, nothing gets done in the state house or congress without compromise.  There even has to be compromise between members of the same party.  It's also important to have civil dialogue.  If everyone is screaming at each other, nothing gets done.  The best legislation happens when all voices can be heard and are listened to respectfully with an OPEN mind.

The change I want to see, but I don't think is likely to happen anytime soon, especially after the vitriol spewed during this current election season, is CIVIL DIALOG and the willingness to LISTEN to other people's opinions with an OPEN MIND.  SA2020 has been a model of this type of behavior, it sure would be nice to see this happen in other venues.  And one more change that I would like to see is PATIENCE.  This is probably the hardest one of all, because I know people are suffering out there, but to misquote a Blood, Sweat and Tears song, "What goes down must come UP."

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